Will we go to war in Syria?

The top national security advisors in the Obama administration met yesterday to discuss US options in Syria - including the possibility of using force against President Assad's military forces.

Reuters:

Some top officials argue the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State, the officials told Reuters.

One set of options includes direct U.S. military action such as air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases, said one official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

This official said one danger of such action is that Russian and Syrian forces are often co-mingled, raising the possibility of a direct confrontation with Russia that Obama has been at pains to avoid.

U.S. officials said they consider it unlikely that Obama will order U.S. air strikes on Syrian government targets, and they stressed that he may not make any decisions at the planned meeting of his National Security Council.

  One alternative, U.S. officials said, is allowing allies to provide U.S.-vetted rebels with more sophisticated weapons, although not shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, which Washington fears could be used against Western airliners.

The White House declined to comment.

Friday's planned meeting is the latest in a long series of internal debates about what, if anything, to do to end a 5-1/2 year civil war that has killed at least 300,000 people and displaced half the country's population.

The ultimate aim of any new action could be to bolster the battered moderate rebels so they can weather what is now widely seen as the inevitable fall of rebel-held eastern Aleppo to the forces of Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

It also might temper a sense of betrayal among moderate rebels who feel Obama encouraged their uprising by calling for Assad to go but then abandoned them, failing even to enforce his own "red line" against Syria's use of chemical weapons.

This, in turn, might deter them from migrating to Islamist groups such as the Nusra Front, which the United States regards as Syria's al Qaeda branch. The group in July said it had cut ties to al Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. ANOTHER TRY AT DIPLOMACY

The U.S. and Russian foreign ministers will meet in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday to resume their failed effort to find a diplomatic solution, possibly joined by their counterparts from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran, but

U.S. officials voiced little hope for success.

Any military move against Assad is extraordinarily dangerous. Russia has repeatedly warned the administration not to attack Assad's forces, hinting they would shoot down our war planes. 

But what else is there? Diplomacy has failed. Our timidity prevents us from giving the rebels more sophisticated arms. We aren't training enough rebels where they would make a difference on the battlefield. 

All the president has is empty rhetoric about charging Assad with war crimes. His weakness and vaccilation over the last 5 years is coming home to roost as Syria will go down as Obama's most spectacular foreign policy failure. 

 

 

 

The top national security advisors in the Obama administration met yesterday to discuss US options in Syria - including the possibility of using force against President Assad's military forces.

Reuters:

Some top officials argue the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State, the officials told Reuters.

One set of options includes direct U.S. military action such as air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases, said one official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

This official said one danger of such action is that Russian and Syrian forces are often co-mingled, raising the possibility of a direct confrontation with Russia that Obama has been at pains to avoid.

U.S. officials said they consider it unlikely that Obama will order U.S. air strikes on Syrian government targets, and they stressed that he may not make any decisions at the planned meeting of his National Security Council.

  One alternative, U.S. officials said, is allowing allies to provide U.S.-vetted rebels with more sophisticated weapons, although not shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, which Washington fears could be used against Western airliners.

The White House declined to comment.

Friday's planned meeting is the latest in a long series of internal debates about what, if anything, to do to end a 5-1/2 year civil war that has killed at least 300,000 people and displaced half the country's population.

The ultimate aim of any new action could be to bolster the battered moderate rebels so they can weather what is now widely seen as the inevitable fall of rebel-held eastern Aleppo to the forces of Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

It also might temper a sense of betrayal among moderate rebels who feel Obama encouraged their uprising by calling for Assad to go but then abandoned them, failing even to enforce his own "red line" against Syria's use of chemical weapons.

This, in turn, might deter them from migrating to Islamist groups such as the Nusra Front, which the United States regards as Syria's al Qaeda branch. The group in July said it had cut ties to al Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. ANOTHER TRY AT DIPLOMACY

The U.S. and Russian foreign ministers will meet in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday to resume their failed effort to find a diplomatic solution, possibly joined by their counterparts from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran, but

U.S. officials voiced little hope for success.

Any military move against Assad is extraordinarily dangerous. Russia has repeatedly warned the administration not to attack Assad's forces, hinting they would shoot down our war planes. 

But what else is there? Diplomacy has failed. Our timidity prevents us from giving the rebels more sophisticated arms. We aren't training enough rebels where they would make a difference on the battlefield. 

All the president has is empty rhetoric about charging Assad with war crimes. His weakness and vaccilation over the last 5 years is coming home to roost as Syria will go down as Obama's most spectacular foreign policy failure.